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11:03 a.m. - 2010-09-04
Do You Believe In Magic?

Because I am a big old dweeb I've been making my way through both seasons of 'Nanny and The Professor' on Hulu. For those who don't remember that show (mostly because you weren't born yet, it's an old show that didn't last much past the mid-1970s even in re-runs) about black-haired, blue-eyed Richard Long playing Professor Harold Everett, widowed father of three genetically improbable very blonde, brown-eyed offspring- Hal, Butch and Prudence. A loving father who can't quite manage to hang onto a housekeeper/nanny for his slightly eccentric kids. Enter Phoebe Figalilly aka: Nanny. Is Nanny magic in the tradition of Mary Poppins? It's never made certain. She has the requisite English accent, is definitely psychic and can communicate with animals (of which the Everett family has many), but can almost always explain away her manifestations as simply being intuitive and full of good old common sense. (A technique with which I am very familiar. *smirk*)

The show is a bit silly, but it's also good hearted and kind. Nobody is an idiot, no one is constantly the butt of jokes, and the kids are kids- not foul-mouthed brats who burble innuendo. Despite being firmly grounded in science and logic Professor Everett is often bemused by Nanny's other-directed way of going on, but he isn't hysterically threatened and emasculated by it ala Darren Stevens. (Oy, the sexism of 'Bewitched' makes me crazy!)

In the gentle morality tale way of 70s sitcoms each episode deals with an ethical dilemma or challenges the status quo of limited, often prejudiced thinking. Neither strident nor too, too ham-handed Nanny manages to guide her charges (and the Prof) into Doing The Right Thing.

It's a good show. I like watching an episode or two at the end of the day, usually right before bed, especially after I've had a bate of the angry invective-filled nonsense that passes as news and commentary these days. The issues of 1971 aren't so very different from today's, but sometimes I can see how things have turned out far differently from the fears of yesteryear. Take for instance- computers. The electronics are primitive and laughable (punch cards, blinky lights, computers that fill a room) but already Professor Everett is a fan of the supposedly superior logic of computers. It's always Nanny's job to remind him of the human element and that cold hard data will never win out over the illogical but necessary workings of the human heart.

I remember that fear. The fear that people will be replaced by computers. That humanity will be rendered superfluous by machines. It was a pervasive under-current of unease back in the day, that the wonders of the computer age would be paid for with our souls. What nobody imagined (except Bill Gates) was that instead of being replaced, humans embraced computers and turned them into communication tools. Our need to connect and be one with each other (in Nanny's view- the human element) didn't give way to the cold antiseptic implacability of computer think, instead we turned it on its ear and use computers to bring more humanity into our lives.

At least mine has. I only have to look to last week and remember how marooned I felt without my computer. How cut off I was from my friends. Friends who are in every way just as much my friends as if they were dropping by for coffee in my dining room instead of coming in via text and pic on my monitor. And if I cannot put physical hands on them, hug them and look directly into their eyes, it's more than balanced off by being able to be part of their everyday lives in Boston, Philly, Fargo, Eindhoven, Poughkeepsie, Auckland, Brighton, San Diego, Fallujah, South Bend, and the dozens of other locales worldwide where those who carry me in their hearts (and they in mine) spend their physical time.

Thanks to the love and support I found through my computer I laid rest to many of my demons, healed, moved on from a destructive relationship, and at 47 find myself impossibly content and happier than I ever dreamed possible. I met my husband on the computer. I make most of living through my computer. I've found answers and help with raising my challenging son through my computer. Cold? Antiseptic? Bit and byte superseding the heart? Not bloody likely. In that way both Nanny and the Professor were wrong, or at least not able to see then how things would play out in the Now.

Heck, Nanny and her Professor couldn't even see that someday I'd be using the data stream of the cold logic of binary and the magic of love to time travel. Travel back to a gentler kinder time and visit a world that's 40 years gone, yet still very relevant and welcome today.


Love, ~LA

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